Was one of the thoughts that ran through Stephen King’s mind after he finished reading a letter from a woman who was a fan of his, she had been diagnosed with cancer and given less than a year to live. She wrote to him wanting to know how the Dark Tower series ended as it was unlikely she would ever see the publication of the final book.
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger was published in 1982. Part two was published in 1987, part three in 1997 and part four in 2004. It was around this time that he received the letter.
King had been in no hurry to finish the series of books, in an introduction to one of the Dark Tower books, he related the story about the woman dying from cancer. It was one of those occasions when he was snapped out of a self-imposed exile from writing any Dark Tower material, there was always time when the most recent project was finished, maybe next month or next year and the letter made him realize that the woman probably had plans for next year, hell, she probably had plans for the year after too, but they were gone now.
It made him think too of posterity as being more than just a word that gets bandied around, away from the awards and the money, there were people, millions of them, reading his work, it’s not like he forgot that, it was always there he explained, but somehow it never stood out as vividly as that letter made it stand out that normal everyday people were out there waiting for him to finish what he started.
They were living normal, mostly harmless lives, and lives have a habit of ending unexpectedly.
So he sent that woman a detailed account of what he thought would happen to each character in the final books. It was the best he could do.
Someday Stephen King will die, and his family will mourn him, the great and the good will idolize him. Book sales will increase. Authors will remind us that he is the greatest storyteller of our generation and sold more copies than Charles Dickens.
I spent most of my adolescent years reading Stephen King in a damp, cold, dark rundown library in a small Irish town in the mid-west of Ireland.
I devoured those books. They passed a few hours at first, a few days and then a few years. When you think about it, that an Irish teenager, you have never met in a town you have never visited is reading your work, and you are leaving such a massive impression on that teenager without ever having met or spoken to him, that has to be the epitome of posterity.